The island of Java is one of the most densely populated regions in the world. The roads are lined with houses like a never-ending city. Beyond the buildings are rice fields. This morning they are full of people. Men drive skinny bulls pulling ploughs or toss bunches of rice shoots into the paddies for the women to plant, bent over in the water, a bobbing row of straw hats. Men and women both work in mud and water up to their knees.
Indonesia is a country of 13,667 islands. Sixty percent of the population live on Java and Bali, where the land is best. The government would like people to move and colonise other still-forested islands under a resettlement programme. But for Amin’ s daughters and sons-in-law that is a bold step: it means choosing to separate from family and community, to cut through the dense jungle and risk attack from herds of elephants, wild pigs, bears, tigers and snakes. For now, Amin’ s daughters will stay near their parents and Suparsi and Carmina are strong-willed enough to influence their husbands.